"A piece of interactive art"
"Already one of my favorite mobile games"
- The Verge
"Alto's Adventure demands your attention"
"The visuals really are incredible"
- Touch Arcade
Part endless runner, part snowboarding game, Alto's Adventure scratches the itch of a premium mobile game with a great core loop that'll have you pulling your phone out every time you have a spare 2-3 minutes.
The guys at Snowman, developers of Alto's Adventure, have cited inspirations that include Goldeneye and the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series to previous mobile hits such as Tiny Wings and Ski Safari.
The latter was the first thing that came to my mind when playing this game. I was a huge fan of the 2012 snowboarding game by Defiant Development and was pleasantly surprised to see a game take on some of the mechanics from Ski Safari and mold them into this new thing. I was however interested to get Defiant Development's opinion on Alto's Adventure while I was at their office recently to discuss Hand of Fate and it's upcoming sequel. I asked founder of the company Morgan Jaffit about the game to which he responded with a hearty laugh.
"I was really pleased with Alto's. I thought it was a good spin on those principals. It's a game that you're proud to be lined up against.
I was delighted and I told those guys I was delighted. I was surprised that Ski Safari didn't get knocked off more. We would send the occasional take down notice to the app store when somebody was using our icons and our art and putting them into a crappy Flappy Bird style game, but there wasn't really anybody doing much with the mechanics. There's so many clones in the app store and it took two years before anybody did anything with it.
Alto's is a genuinely good game. It's got it's own spin on what's going on. It's got it's own approach to the art style. It's genuinely a good and worthy game. All of our games have stuff that's inspired by other games. Ski Safari has the mission system from Tiny Wings which then Jetpack Joyride did much better than Tiny Wings and that became an inspiration for Ski Safari. I don't think the game would have worked as well without that."
Some decisive differences between Ski Safari and Alto's Adventure include the aforementioned mission system. In some games that have come before, players would be given three tasks at a time to complete and upon finishing any one of them another would take it's place. Not so in Alto's Adventure. Here players have to complete all three objectives before progressing. I asked Ryan Cash, founder of Snowmen and developer of Alto's Adventure if they were happy in their decision to create their system in this way.
"We chose to structure it like this because of our “leveling up” system, whereby you can unlock new characters to play as, as you progress in the game. We also wanted to bring a little bit of that old-school frustration out, where you might end up stuck on a tough challenge for a while (as opposed to moving on to others). I don’t think that’d work well in a freemium game, but in a premium game it’s doable."
In the current mobile market, any game that goes premium over free to play is bucking the trend. The free to play model can be disgusting when used in certain ways, so I for one am happy to see a quality game come out and do well among cash grabbing machines such as Clash of Clans and Game of War.
"I think it was definitely the right choice for Alto’s Adventure. Did we definitely make the most money we could have made? Who knows. But we’re very comfortable with our decision and can sleep well at night knowing we made something people love and that doesn’t have any hidden gimmicks or mechanics to it. It’s just great to know that anyone who buys the game is invested in checking it out, and can enjoy it without having to consider how it’s monetized.
I have nothing against freemium games – there are a bunch of great examples of freemium done right – but for Alto it just felt right to sell it as a paid product."
Since release, Alto's Adventure has received overall praise on Metacritic with a score of 92, as well as getting just under a five star review on average on the App Store which it has maintained to this day. To say it has done well with the masses would be an understatement, but what's next?
"Can’t say anything here… but follow us on twitter at @builtbysnowman and @altosadventure to make sure you’re kept in the loop. We’re quite busy over here!"
Alto's Adventure is available now on iPhone and iPad. You can expect to pay roughly $1.99 USD in your local region.